The Gear Junkie: What's New for 2008

Polar RS800G3 Multisport Training System

Last week I dove into the great gear extravaganza that is the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, an annual trade show in Salt Lake City where companies unveil the latest and greatest in gear, gadgets, shoes, clothing, and all other form of outdoorsy goods. This show is the Sundance Film Fest for the outdoors set, with parties, press conferences, media appearances and endless swag. What'll be hot and cool next season in the great outdoors? Here are a few items that caught my attention.

Polar RS800G3 Multisport Training System
This tech watch, which launched last year, got an upgrade and a partner product in the form of a new GPS module that attaches to your arm and provides speed and distance measurements. It can calculate your miles-per-hour reading while on the run, measure heart rate, calories burned, elevation gained and lost, and a litany of other functions. I tested the system outside the convention center in Salt Lake City, and the package performed as promised. System includes the watch, GPS module, heart rate transmitter, and software. Available next month. $499.95. www.polarusa.com

MSR Hyperflow Microfilter
Touted as the lightest, smallest, fastest-pumping filter available, MSR's Hyperflow Microfilter weighs just 7.7 ounces but pumps up to 2.75 liters per minute. It's essentially a small hand pump with a hose coming out one side that you drop in the creek. You screw a spout on the handle to your water bottle, then pump. I tried it in a tank on the show floor, and so far MSR's big claims look to be dead on. $99.95. Available January 2008. www.msrgear.com

Inov-8 Race Pro 12
I'm drooling over this one. The Race Pro 12 is a lightweight backpack compatible with the company's new horizontal water bladder, which sits right on your hips to minimize bouncing. There's about 12 liters of capacity in the pack, plus a large stretch mesh pocket on back. Little details I like include hip-belt pockets, reflective piping for nighttime visibility, and an overall clean, no-frills design. It weighs just less than 1 pound when empty. $80; hydration bladder, $25. Available now. www.inov-8.com

SPOT Satellite Messenger
Don't want to alert a search-and-rescue force every time you're in minor trouble? Or maybe you're just going to be late getting back home after a long trek. The SPOT Satellite Messenger, a new emergency beacon, uses GPS signals and a private satellite network to bleep out communiqu?s of four iterations, including 1) "I'm Okay"; 2) "Summon emergency responder"; 3) "Request help" for friends and family; 4) Track Location. The last feature, Track Location, remotely follows your path, stores GPS waypoints, then transmits the data for live display on the Web via Google Maps. $149, plus an annual $99 service fee. Available next month. www.findmespot.com

NuCanoe
The sit-on-top NuCanoe has a high-flotation sealed plastic hull that is virtually unsinkable. At 12 feet long and 42 inches wide, and with clip-in seats, the boat can be piloted solo or with a partner. NuCanoe Inc. touts its namesake product, which comes in three similar models, as stable, safe, and easy-to-use though still responsive and nimble on the water. It weighs 90 pounds when empty. Starts at $699. Available now. www.nucanoe.com

Click here for Part II of The Gear Junkie's visit to the 2007 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.


Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; visit www.thegearjunkie.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog and an archive of Regenold's work.

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